I have a large trunk in our basement full of Henry’s things: his journals, his letters to me and to others, his favorite books from childhood, his drawings, and some of his clothes where if I breathe them in deeply enough, I feel certain that I can still smell him on them.
Over time, I open the trunk less and less because I’ve learned that while I’m so grateful to have all these tangible memories, if I spend too much time sitting on the floor next to the trunk, rifling through his belongings, I am too often sent into a deep fugue that can last several days. It’s just too bittersweet to read and touch and feel and smell him without being really able to do those things.
But today I just felt like I needed to spend some time with his trunk, and so I went downstairs by myself, opened the trunk up, and chose one of his journals at random. It turned out to be the one he kept when he was in the North Carolina wilderness treatment program that we sent him to just about a year before he died – so when he was 17. I opened the journal and randomly turned a page, bracing myself to read something difficult or painful or hard but instead, the page I opened had this little story on it.
The Tale of Lennywinks
Once upon a time there was a man named Lennywinks. Lennywinks was a very short, bald and tubby man who enjoyed World of Warcraft and cottage cheese.
One day Lennywinks was writing a haiku when he suddenly heard a knock at the door. When he opened it, he discovered a stranger standing there, completely naked and covered in Crisco oil.
Lennywinks smiled in amazement as he gazed at the greased man.
The man let out a sharp squeal and ran into Lennywinks’ house. Lennywinks’ smile turned to a frown as he reached out to catch the nude hoodlum. But the greased man slipped from his hands and darted across the living room. To Lennywinks’ dismay, the greased bandit then jumped out of Lennywinks’ 13th story window and fell to his death.
Lennywinks returned to his haiku.
As I read this ridiculous piece of fluff, I started to smile, remembering Henry’s often absurdist sense of humor, and then I realized that my son wouldn’t want me to spend this beautiful spring afternoon in the basement, looking at things that are bound to make me sad. He would want me to smile and remember his silly side and all the times the two of us laughed so hard together at things no one else might find even remotely amusing.
After I read The Tale of Lennywinks one more time with a giant grin on my face, I put the journal back where I found it. Then I closed up the trunk and went outside to play with Henry’s little sisters on the trampoline.